Pig producers ‘digging holes’ as prices remain below cost of production

As pig processors continue to hold prices, farmers are being forced to dig themselves into deeper holes, according to the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pig Committee, Thomas Hogan.

As it stands, the average pig price remains at 140c/kg – but, deals are being done anywhere from as low as 138c/kg to 144c/kg, Hogan added.

The IFA maintains that the cost of production lies at 150c/kg, which means producers are left to deal with a 10c/kg shortfall.

Prices have remained static for the past number of months and producers are calling for a “justified” price increase in order to bring Irish prices in line with continental Europe.

German pig prices are running between 4c/kg and 5c/kg ahead of what Irish pig farmers are receiving, Hogan explained.

In recent weeks, pig prices in the German market spiked by about 25c/kg. Following this, these prices dropped slightly and stabilised, Hogan said.

Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “We would be hoping for a price increase. The German price remained static, which is a good sign. Our home market is reasonably strong as well.

Every week the price remains the same pig producers are digging holes as such. At least if we had a break-even price we wouldn’t be going backwards.

“Pig prices will have to rise considerably over the next couple of weeks if we are going to get the average price for the year to between 150c/kg and 155c/kg.”

Hogan believes that the recent heavy snowfalls delayed processors upping the price; but, he added that – as the number of pigs being killed in Ireland on a weekly basis has settled – he is confident that an increase is imminent.

Despite the past two or three months being tough, the IFA’s Pig Committee chairman is “reasonably positive” about the next six months.

What I would be saying to pig producers is to put as much pressure as possible on processors to up the price.

Efforts by this publication to get in contact with some pig processors for a comment on the prospect of a price increase have been unsuccessful in recent days.

Increase in the cost of feed

As well as this, Hogan is worried that a prospective price boost could be eaten up by an increase in the cost of feed.

With the consistent wet weather and poor ground conditions, all livestock farmers are being forced to house stock for longer – which is placing more pressure than normal on feed mills to meet demand.

“Feed prices could go up; there is huge demand at the moment and there is a worry that quality could drop as a result. If the weather picked up a little in the near future, the demand for feed could ease,” he concluded.